Defining the concepts of race, gender, social class and youth

As a criminology student I am looking at the definitions of crime but also more general concepts of race, gender, social class and youth.

Today I was asked in my study material how my own definitions of these concepts compare to the ones in the chapter. And then, as I thought about it I realised that I can’t accept any of those concepts or their definitions. Because as soon as one does, divisions are created and from that stems inequality. As a socialist there is no place for those concepts as socialism sees every individual as an equal and unique part of humankind.

But maybe the only exception might be youth or age (in relation to crime and the law). Because children and adolescents have not fully developed they can’t be treated like an adult for the law. I think this is correct. The debate should always be there about where the line should be drawn though, and this is different in each society, and through time.

As for race, class and gender I think they are social constructs that are in place for the ruling class to maintain control over people. If those concepts would loose their meaning because people no longer identify with them, the whole capitalist system could be undermined. I will explain this a bit further. Let’s take gender. This system is build upon the notion that there are male and female gender roles, of which the male role is valued more and given more power. The power, equality and independence of women is undermined, curtailed and oppressed in lots of ways. For instance in marriage, childcare and parenting responsibilities, work, financial and educational opportunities and also in a sexual and physical way. When women are starting to protest and challenge their roles in society, this would mean that men have to give up some of their power and take on some of the tasks previously done (often unpaid) by women. This would undermine the basis of capitalism which monetises every aspect of life and needs constant growth and profit being made for it to flourish. Many of the tasks done by predominantly women are unpaid, and time consuming like looking after children and housework.

As men are in power under this system it is not difficult to understand that anyone challenging or stretching the definitions of being a man is immediately facing adversity, discrimination and oppression. This is probably why gay and transsexual people are facing more of this adversity than gay women.

But imagine a world where none of these concepts exist. Imagine that every person can express their identity in any way they want without the threat of violence, oppression and adversity because the basis of society is founded on the principle that all people are equal and the first priority is not profit and private property but to achieve the highest possible standard of living for everyone. That is what a socialist society would be like.

Under capitalism this equality is not possible because the essence of it is based on inequality, exploitation and division. It is a pyramid system, where a handful of people reap the rewards of the labour of the majority.

By Mayola 28/10/2020

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